Travel Tips

Modern Conveniences


Most household utilities in Beijing are prepaid. If you are renting an apartment your electricity should be connected before you move in. The charges for electricity, gas and water are usually included in your bi-monthly utility bill from the property management company. Otherwise you need to go to a bank or self-service machine to buy an electricity card, pre-loaded with a certain amount of electricity credit. Then you insert the card in the electricity meter. If you forget, or the card runs out, then the electricity cuts off and you have to wait until you can purchase another electricity card, so make sure to plan ahead before public holidays. Gas is handled in the same way. In Shanghai utilities are not prepaid in this way.

China uses 220 volt current so you will not be able to use your North American appliances unless they include an adapter. An external adapter will be marked 110-220v or 100-240v. Electrical sockets in China usually have two flat or two rounded holes (not three pins).


When traveling or staying in Beijing you have a few options for getting your laundry done. The tourist hotels and some free-standing laundry services will charge a high fee per item. Another choice is to take your laundry to a service that charges by weight. One such service is Jing Quan, a chain of campus laundomats, which has a location in the southwest corner of Peking University. You do not have to be a student to use the service and if you get your load there before 10:30am, you can pick it up again, washed, dried and folded, between 7:00 and 9:00pm. A fairly novel concept in Beijing is the self-serve laundromat. You can find these at the Holiday Inn Express Beijing MinZuYuan in the Olympic Business District and at the Express By Holiday Inn Shangdi near Tsinghua and Peking Universities.


In most apartments in Beijing you will not be able to get any channels in English. Some visitors working or studying in Beijing invest in a 0.55m diameter personal satellite dish to get the digital signals from Dream Satellite Television, which offers 52 channels, mostly in English.

In tourist hotels, channel 9 is often an English language channel and there are sometimes pay-per-view movies in English available.

Postal Service

China Post is the national postal service and has locations all over Beijing, open from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays and on Saturday mornings. Most offices do not have English-speaking staff. Tourist hotels offer postal service for mailing postcards and letters. You can also use international shipping companies, including FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL with offices around the city. If you are mailing any type of published material (including books, magazines or newspapers) you need to send it from an authorized post office. To send large or precious items that require customs clearance use the International Post & Telecommunications Office on Jianguomen Beidajie. You will need to leave your package unsealed as they will insist on inspecting it. At the same office you can also obtain money orders and telephone services both international and within China. If you are having a package sent to you, the best chance of it arriving promptly is to have it addressed in Chinese. To collect it you may need to go to the local post office. Take your passport and notification card.